It’s semifinal showtime in the Cambodia Basketball Challenge, presented by Banzai and Sabay, at the Beeline Arena tomorrow.
For the four teams fighting for a stake in next week’s championship match, the stress factor is a lot higher than at any point in the past eight weeks of competition.
League-toppers Sabay Salty Crabs open, wondering whether they can withstand the CCPL Heat. A rousing win over Mobitel XG Warriors in last week’s playoff highlighted the Heat’s ability to stand up to big men and fast teams.
The Heat platform has been a good defence with a smooth offensive transition – but will this gameplan work against the top-ranked team, one endowed with the muscle inside the shaded lane of Sean Looney, the hustle and bustle of Kim Vengoun and the long-range accuracy of Monh Ratana?
This Crabs trio has often unlocked the tightest of defensive set-ups. A deeper bench and a formidable line-up make the Crabs the team the market fancies, but as a safety measure against the Heat melting them down, the Crabs will have to set up a sound cooling system.
National stalwart Kim Ran has been the Heat’s mainstay shooter and what he needs from his back-up Sok Tour is consistency. Playmaker Sovan Panha’s role may also be of crucial importance to the side.
With the Crabs roster boasting of a formidable five and good replacements in the wings, they could well control the pace and tempo of the game.
For Banzai Dragons, formerly the Phnom Penh Dragons, the big question is whether they can bring down a stonewall in Raid Alaxan FR.
Coming off a thrilling win against Sela Meas in the playoffs, the Dragons are ready for a decidedly stronger set of opponents.
Mark Nabong and Kelvin Chan contributed a combined 36 points against Sela Meas, and the Dragons fortunes depend on the form of this duo. But they will be up against the highly combative Raid-Alaxan pair of Aimar Sabayo and Nigel Doughan, who are tough to cross.
Creativity could be key to Dragons success. The team is well aware that against a side with big men capable of fast breaks, they have to exert additional plays instead of just relying on the shooters. The task of helping his team-mates take open shots more often rests on playmaker Emman Quiruz.
A two-week break has been a boon for Raid-Alaxan. Top gunner Sabayo has the strength and the height to shake defensive set-ups while Doughan is capable of causing zonal damage. Raid-Alaxan will also be looking at Bobeth Cervanez for speed and scoring support.
The bench strength of both sides is almost equal, though Raid-Alaxan have a decidedly stronger starting five. While on paper Raid-Alaxan may enjoy a slight edge, on sheer spirit the Dragons’s chances of springing a surprise cannot be ruled out.
- Sabay Salty Crabs v CCPL Heat 3pm
- Raid-Alaxan FR v Banzai Dragons 4:30pm
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at [email protected]